Euro 2012: How the Dutch can still save themselves

Euro 2012: Portugal v Netherlands

  • Venue: Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv
  • Date: Sunday, 17 June
  • Kick-off: 19:45 BST

Coverage: ITV, BBC Radio 5 live, highlights on BBC One and BBC Sport website

If the Netherlands do fail to make the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, then they only have themselves to blame.

It is their mentality that has caused them problems in Ukraine, particularly in their opening game against Denmark.

But they are not out yet, of course.

And, as I said on Match of the Day after their defeat by Germany on Wednesday night, the Dutch players have to approach their final game in Group B as if a win will mean they will still make it out of their group.

WHAT THE DUTCH NEED TO DO AGAINST PORTUGAL TO MAKE THE QUARTER-FINALS

Henri Delaunay trophy

Win - Secures qualification if by more than one goal and Germany beat Denmark.

Draw or Lose: Out.

I still think they can beat Portugal on Sunday, but the tough reality is that progressing is no longer in their hands.

Firstly, they have to win by two goals or more, which is already a difficult job because the Portuguese are a very good side.

Then Denmark have to lose against Germany - if the Danes get a point, then it is all over. The Dutch need to go for it, because Portugal will definitely sit back and wait and make things difficult for them, like the Danes did in their first game.

Because only a win will do, we can expect a different approach from coach Bert van Marwijk in the Netherlands' final game.

At the very least, I think he will make some changes in personnel even if he does stick with his 4-2-3-1 formation.

In defence, they should consider using Khalid Boulahrouz at centre-back instead of Johnny Heitinga, because Heitinga has made some crucial mistakes in the first two games.

For Mario Gomez's first goal for Germany, he made the same error as he did for Denmark's goal.

Heitinga was with Gomez when Bastian Schweinsteiger shaped to shoot from 30 yards out, and he should have let him have the shot. Instead, he left Gomez free in order to close Schweinsteiger down.

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They need to go for it, because Portugal will definitely sit back and wait and make things difficult for them, like the Danes did in their first game

It was in the same sort of area as when he allowed Michael Krohn-Dehli to go past him in the first game and score for the Danes. Again, it was very costly.

However, the key thing in Kharkiv for the Netherlands will be about scoring goals.

And the way they ended the game against Germany is the way they should start on Sunday, because they need to take the game to the Portuguese.

Rafael van der Vaart should be starting in midfield alongside Nigel De Jong, instead of Mark van Bommel.

Van der Vaart is like an extra man in attack and his presence allows the strikers to stay closer to the box, rather than dropping deeper.

There should be changes further forward too. Wesley Sneijder should be on the left, with Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar together up front and Arjen Robben on the right.

They need to go for it, because Portugal will definitely sit back and wait and make things difficult for them, like the Danes did in their first game.

We knew this was a tough group before it started but losing that match has mixed everything up for the Netherlands.

The same team that reached the World Cup final two years ago has been left playing catch-up in this tournament because they did not have the right approach to that game.

Yes, the Dutch started well against the Danes and created a lot, and they should have won.

But I still don't think they played that well, and many of those opportunities came from Denmark mistakes.

Things were better against Germany.

Highlights: Germany 2-1 Netherlands

I saw some good moments from the Dutch for 20 minutes in that game - but they should be playing for 60 or 70 minutes like that.

They showed some good energy, but it is a pity they could not give any more.

They also need to start taking their chances, because that was the main difference between them and the Germans.

To have had two defeats is disappointing but the positive thing is that they still have a chance of making the quarter-finals.

They know what they need to do against Portgual, but can they do it?

Firstly, they have got to treat the game like a cup final, because the Portuguese will. Also, they have to focus on that game, not what Denmark are doing against Germany.

But the main thing is that they have to believe they can win. If they do that, anything is possible.